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Saudi Arabia Says 15 of Sept. 11 Hijackers Were Its
By Paul Tighe
Riyadh, Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia said for the first time 15 of the 19
hijackers behind the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. were Saudi citizens, the
Associated Press cited Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as saying.
``The names that we got confirmed that,'' Nayef said in an interview with AP.
``Their families have been notified.''
Saudi authorities detained about 30 people since Sept. 11 based on lists
provided by the U.S., he said. Some have been released.
The al-Qaeda terrorist network, organized by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, is
blamed for masterminding the hijacking of civilian planes and using them to
destroy the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon killing more than 3,000
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation identified 15 of the hijackers as Saudi
nationals. Saudi Arabia previously said their citizenship was in doubt. The Saudi
government rejected criticism in the U.S. it hasn't done enough to crack down on
extremism after the attacks.
The hijackers were ``taken advantage of in the name of religion and regarding
certain issues pertaining to the Arab nation, especially the issue of Palestine,''
Nayef told AP.
Saudi Arabia bears no responsibility for the actions of the hijackers, he said.
``This is the truth,'' Nayef said.
There isn't any evidence of al-Qaeda cells operating in the country, though Saudi
Arabia will show ``no mercy'' to any al- Qaeda radicals found, Nayef said. The
men still in detention ``have been influenced by bin Laden's thinking,'' he said.
Bin Laden, who was stripped of his citizenship in 1994, lived in Afghanistan since
1996 and operated his camps with the approval of the Taliban regime. He hasn't
been found since the Taliban were driven from power and U.S. forces began
destroying al-Qaeda camps in a military campaign that started with bombing
raids Oct. 7.
Asked if he knew whether bin Laden is alive, Nayef told AP: ``we have no
information and we have no interest in this subject.''